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Christian legal group: Gays can’t force Christian clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A Christian legal group on Monday sent a memorandum to marriage officials in the three states where gay marriage was legalized in last week’s elections, advising them they “do not have to violate their faith or conscience by personally issuing licenses to applicants who are of the same sex.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly Alliance Defense Fund) a American conservative Christian nonprofit organization, sent the advisory to municipal clerks and other officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Maine, Maryland and Washington.

The memos stated:

[...] In light of the three states’ “recent redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples,” some clerks and auditors “might believe that they face a serious dilemma: either resign their positions or violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

However, those officials “can readily resolve this potential religious conflict” by acting on the authority they have to appoint their responsibilities to deputies or assistants.

“No American should be forced to give up a constitutionally protected freedom, nor should any American be forced to give up his or her job to maintain that freedom,” said Austin R. Nimocks, who serves as senior legal counsel to ADF in its Washington, D.C. office.

“Religious freedom is paramount to every American, including those issuing marriage licenses. They can perform their job without violating their conscience,” he said.

Nimocks added that the people and the governments should respect the faith and conscience of the clerks and that by doing so should provide no impediment to carrying out the law as the exclusions provided the basis for that respect.

One Washington D.C. based legal analyst told LGBTQ Nation Monday that a county clerk issuing a marriage license is only required to ensure that the couple meetings the legal requirements of that state for marriage, such as residency, age, etc.:

“If the couple agrees to be married and otherwise meets the legal requirements, by issuing the license, the clerk is merely certifying that the couple meets the legal requirements; the clerk is not required to perform or officiate the wedding (which is always separate from issuing and recording the license), nor otherwise approve or endorse.

“By telling clerks not to issue license, the ADF is recommending insubordination over something that is not even within the clerk’s prescribed legal duties nor responsibility.”

“In no case is the clerk required or even allowed to make a moral determination of suitability or appropriateness of any specific couple,” said the analyst, who works in the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

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60 more reader comments:

  1. christians need to stop being so mean everyone’s different n it’s ok

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:24pm
  2. its not up to christains its up to the government officials hahaah

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:25pm
  3. This is so silly, so where do we draw the line? Soon drive-thru dont have to sell to gay people if they dont want, for whatever reason.. while we are out lets go ahead and bring back special drinking fountains for people we consider second class citizens. They are there to do a job, if their personal beliefs interfere with providing a service find a different job!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:25pm
  4. GRRRR. If you do not wish to uphold the licensing laws of your state, then you should work in their licensing office.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:25pm
  5. So a town/city clerk can decide which laws to obey and I have to obey all of them? Why do the town/city clerks get special rights that I don’t have?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:26pm
  6. that looks like that would get into the area of separation of church and state.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:26pm
  7. Well, it’s not like all Christians even have this problem. :-{D}

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:26pm
  8. If you are Christian and your beliefs are the problem then you might need to find a new job…Like in your church! You have to be able to perform the duties of a state job if you intend to keep it!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:26pm
  9. Really? I mean really! Good grief!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:27pm
  10. don’t worry, there are plenty of churches that would offer marriage, since we actually don’t need to get a license from the church, that comes from states, who the fuck cares.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:28pm
  11. RME. Christian clerks? Okay…I can see about not marrying in a church, but any kind of government is supposed to be seperate from church, so their argument if automatically invalid.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:28pm
  12. The Law is the law and you cannot select which parts of it you will enforce. When gay marriage is legal… and it soon will be.. clerks can either follow the law or seek another line of employment…. can we allow the police to enforce only the parts of the law they approve of?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:28pm
  13. They are paid to do a job, period. If they don’t want to perform job tasks required in a secular environment, there are enough people looking for jobs who would be happy to do the job for them.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:29pm
  14. what?? christians judgeing gays? what?? lol may they find the holy spirit instead of thier flesh. amen

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:29pm
  15. Yeah my gay tax dollars don’t need to pay their public salaries either.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:30pm
  16. Well, if they can’t do their job, maybe they can work elsewhere. I’d love a new job and I won’t tell two people who are in love that they can’t have a marriage license.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:30pm
  17. the fuck they can’t

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:30pm
  18. I also find it funny where Christians choose their battles when it comes to their beliefs. It seems convenient to just select what to discriminate against when they want to impose prejudice. A perfect example is how Christians who join the military have no problem putting all of the sins they commit in the name of the country aside but lets not give marriage licenses to gay citizens, because clearly that is the most dangerous thing they have to live with.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:31pm
  19. It’s amazing to me the depths of Christian hatred!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:32pm
  20. That’s your job. It’s not your father’s country. Do what you are supposed to do or just resign you bunch of mean, selfish, arrogant and anti-gay losers. Love has won in the end. Losers like you won’t prosper in life.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:33pm
  21. Then they should quit their jobs, because their paid to do a job, & if they don’t wanna do it, then they need to find the door. We pay taxes that pays their paycheck, & if they refuse to do their jobs, then their wasting our money!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:34pm
  22. I may be misreading the article, but lets keep in mind, this is an independent group not the clerks that are making these claims. Lets give the clerks a benefit of the doubt.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:36pm
  23. They can’t force them not to be douchebags, either.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:37pm
  24. If they won’t do the job they were hired to do, they can get out :l

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:42pm
  25. Are u f*cking kidding me?!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:46pm
  26. What stupidity is this!?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:48pm
  27. Ah, so the law is the law unless you’re Christian. Good news, evangelicals! You can go bat-shit crazy, and scam people, torture people, and kill people now! Oh wait, you already do.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:57pm
  28. Gays can’t force christian clerks to issue same sex marriage licenses? Oh, yes we can.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:00pm
  29. so i can get a job there and then refuse licenses the old men and young chics? cuz that makes me sick.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:01pm
  30. Practice and preach your Christian hate in the privacy of your own home. Some people are just sad and pathetic. Do your job like you were hired to do. Leave your religion at home or in your church.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:02pm
  31. This is just stupid.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:04pm
  32. Wow… These bibull thumping assholes will go to any extreme to make sure we don’t have equal rights. I hope these clerks can be fired if they attempt this…

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:21pm
  33. Talk about retarded and insane. By that logic I can walk into any Christian church and shoot half the people in there because I chose to ignore the law too..

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:26pm
  34. They just don’t give up. Sour grapes.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:41pm
  35. Oh you will :) we’re bi-winning

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:44pm
  36. County Clerks are not to make judgments about who is or is not suitable to be married. That is not their job. They need to follow the law, and if they can not perform their job, they need to resign, or pay the consequences. What is next?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:13pm
  37. Time to get a new job then

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:17pm
  38. im bisexual so imma trick them into giving it to me then marry who ever the fuck i wont yea suck my dick homophobs

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:25pm
  39. I’m a christian and I’m gay. so if I’m a christian clerk do i refuse to give a marriage to a gay? hmmm….hahahahaHAAAAA!!! i love it!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:29pm
  40. Umm… Last I checked, Rights trump privileges. Marriage equality is a Right, whilst having a job as a county clerk is a privilege. This is like a vegan grocery clerk refusing to sell eggs.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:22am
  41. me and my lez friends wanna join you guys..we want to meet lez,bi’s who’s 28 yrs old and up..shoot me a text msg @ 09234529667 BBM pin 2A480E4F much thanks

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:28am
  42. I agree with Christopher Cost up there. ^ I’m bi and as much as I disagree with opinionated Christians about practically everything, some of them aren’t so bad. Most of the clerks who are christian probably won’t try to shove anything down your throat. They will probably just do their jobs. Christians like to lump all of us together when we are each individuals, and the same thing applies to them. Yes, there are the many that give the religion a bad name, but we should take each person we meet as they are, and judge the situation then. Everyone need to learn to accept each other’s differences. Peace must start from someone and they’re too damn stubborn.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:51am
  43. If they don’t want to officiate same sex marriage or any other kind of marriage, they should have found another job.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 1:12am
  44. Then they shouldn’t have that job.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:24am
  45. They tried this bullshit in New York and FAILED!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:26am
  46. And they cant force away our rights to marry

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:49am
  47. Besides there are plenty of true Christian clerks out there that are happy to marry us….so the aholes that descrimanate aint no sweat.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:52am
  48. I hate to break this to them, but there is separation of church and state in government operations. These clerks work for the government, not their churches. If they refuse to do the job they’re paid to do, they risk being terminated for refusing to do their job. If they have a problem with issuing marriage licenses, I’d suggest they start looking for other work now.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 5:19am
  49. refuse to do the job = fired !

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 5:33am
  50. Insubbordination is grounds for termination and refusing to do your job, based on someones personal preference is discrimination. lawsuit please!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:39am
  51. Separation of church and state should take care of this bullshit! My wife and I were treated with respect in East Rochester NY. I could care less what religion the clerk is just do you job!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:36am
  52. I think Christians would just be asked to issue the license not marry a person of the same sex.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:47am
  53. They’re clutching at strings.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 8:08am
  54. So does this mean that if the clerk is gay they shouldn’t be forced to issue a license to a str8 scpl or does this reek of a dbl standard?

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 8:24am
  55. Come on, we only need 1200 people to donate $1 each and these guys will be able to put out a CD to help Ben get his top surgery. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1809941581/ben-wallace-real-boy-vol-1-debut-album

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 11:28am
  56. we should put a marriage ban vote on the ballot against straight people – see how they like their rights voted on

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:01pm
  57. So does that mean the wiccan girl who works at the bookstore doesn’t have to sell any bibles? Does that mean the Sikh woman who works at the starbucks down the street never has to make coffee for anyone who doesn’t believe in her religion? I’m getting really really sick of Christians thinking that “Freedom of Religion” means “Freedom to run this country according to the Christian bible, and then shoot up every other religious or secular establishment around.” I’m a Christian and some days I’m almost ashamed to say that, not because of God, but because of his followers. If you want to go to your government job and claim that you can’t issue a piece of fucking paper to someone because of your beliefs, then you clearly have the wrong idea about what you should be believing in.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 12:27pm
  58. Oh yes we can~

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 1:47pm
  59. ok then we’ll go to a justice of the peace or better yet get married on a cruise so the honey moon is right after the wedding. :D

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:54pm
  60. then Christians can’t work as clerks anymore

    Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 4:01pm